The Global Learning Programs and Services (GLPS) Division office in Building 19 bustled with activity on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 7, 2022, as around 25 guests consisting of students, faculty, staff and members of Skyline College and district leadership gathered for the hybrid Welcome Event organized by Umoja-ASTEP (African American Success Through Excellence and Persistence) in collaboration with Black Student Union (BSU).

The student attendees – a mix of Umoja-ASTEP alumni and returning and new Skyline College students, including an international student from Chad – enjoyed the company of Trustee Maurice Goodman who is himself an ASTEP alumnus, Student Trustee Lesley Ta, Skyline College President Dr. Melissa Moreno and Vice President of Instruction Dr. Vinicio Lopez.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, African Americans make up under 3% of the population in San Mateo County, underscoring the necessity of Umoja-ASTEP and BSU in providing African American and Black students not only material support and resources but a sense of belonging as well. Umoja-ASTEP Faculty Coordinator Dr. Chad Coates informed attendees of the resources and support available to African American students, including the laptop loaner program and the space available to them at the GLPS office for student meetings while TRiO Counselor and BSU Co-Advisor Brianna Clay stressed the importance of safe spaces and community-building for African American and Black students. BSU President Aryssa Muhammad echoed that sentiment, calling on African American and Black students to strengthen their involvement on campus in general with active stewardship and to bring the gifts of their education and experience at Skyline College back to their communities.

Against the backdrop of this serious conversation, students enjoyed pizza, salad and strawberry lemonade while sharing what they looked forward to most and their expectations of Umoja-ASTEP, BSU, and Skyline College with each other and with distinguished guests.

Housed in the Global Learning Programs and Service Division, Umoja-ASTEP is a learning community and transfer support program that focuses on the African American community college experience through the nurturing of knowledge, intellect, academic exploration, cultural, and spiritual identities, gifts, values and practices.

To join Umoja-ASTEP, visit the website or contact Dr. Chad Coates at

To learn more and get involved with the BSU student club, please contact Aryssa Muhammad at

Article by Zaid Ghori | Photos by Sirreck Brown

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